Before You Explore

5 Things to Know about Southwest Idaho

The most acclaimed wineries in the Northwest, the best whitewater in the country, the tallest sand dune in North America…All of it is in Southwest Idaho.

Here, so many of the best experiences are just off the beaten path. There’s no experience required to have a bucket-list worthy adventure — You can easily make a quick weekend road trip into an epic journey.

To make planning your trip here even easier, here are the 5 tips you need to know before you visit.

Adventure is always right outside your door.

Horseshoe Bend Zipline

Taking a deep breath before ziplining in Horseshoe Bend.

If you’re staying in Boise, you’re just minutes away from hiking trails in the foothills.

Drive north just an hour or so, and you’re in the middle of the Central Mountains, surrounded by mountain lakes, alpine forests and ski resorts.

An hour further, you’ll be in Hells Canyon — the deepest gorge in North America — where you can jetboat, raft, or hike to capture all the beauty.

Take I-84 southeast from Boise, you’ll be exploring the Owyhee mountains or Bruneau Sand Dunes within the hour.

Wherever you decide to stay, endless recreation opportunities are just steps away. Feel free to roam — there’s no need to stay in one place.

Take a road trip, and you’ll see what we mean.

Roll with the seasons.

Tamarack Skiing

Skiing through fresh powder at Tamarack. Photo courtesy of John Webster.

Southwest Idaho gets 206 days of sunshine and around 132 inches of snow every year. No matter if it’s snowy season or sunny season, there’s always stunning scenery and boundless adventure to be found.

In the winter, you can hit world-class ski slopes in the rugged Central Mountains outside McCall or soak in luxurious hot springs deep in the wilderness.

In the spring, you can hike the hundreds of miles of trails all throughout the region — from the sagebrush deserts to alpine meadows.

In the summer, get out on the water and float the Boise River, raft the North Fork of the Payette or take the boat for a spin on Lake Cascade.

In the fall, ride your bike in the foothills, go stargazing in the desert and savor farm-to-fork food paired with good wine.

Want to experience the best of each season in Southwest Idaho? Check out these guides.

Download our free Idaho Attractions Guide.

SW Idaho Tourist Attractions

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Venture off the beaten path.

Mountain Biking at Tamarack

Mountain biking through the alpine meadows at Tamarack. Photo courtesy of John Webster.

Don’t just isolate yourself to the cities and small towns. You’ll make some of the best memories when you venture away from city streets and highways. Hidden hot springs are just a short hike away from the trailhead. The best fishing holes are a couple minutes upriver. The freshest powder is a few feet away from the lift.

Read these first-hand stories of experiences you can find only in Southwest Idaho.

Dare to try new things.

Payette River Whitewater Rafting

“Riding the bull” on the Payette River.

Make the most of your time here. Try whitewater rafting, skiing, stand up paddleboarding, even sandboarding. Cross the things you’ve always wanted to try off your bucket list (or even make a new one just for Southwest Idaho!). With countless travel experiences being so affordable and easy to access, you can do it all in Southwest Idaho.

Thinking of trying something new? We’ve got guides to help with that.

No experience required.

Payette Lake Kayaking

Taking in the views along Lake Payette.

You don’t need to be an expert when you visit. You don’t need to be a pro skier or a knowledgeable wine enthusiast to experience the best that this region has to offer.

Southwest Idaho has a special reputation for being exceptionally down-to-earth. (Ever heard of “Boise nice”?) Everyone is always willing to point you in the right direction, tell you about a special trail or talk about the best place to eat.

When you visit this region, all you need is a taste for adventure. That’s it.

Get some local’s tips for your next adventure.

Feeling ready to start planning your adventure? We’ve got all the guides, local’s tips and recommendations to help you explore. Feel free to roam the SWITA website for even more travel inspiration.

  • Get Away for a While

    Where you stay during your travels should add to the adventure — not take you away from it.

  • 7 SW Idaho Coffee Shops

    In Southwest Idaho, you’ll find eclectic coffee shops full of local flavor. In small mountain towns, you’ll meet long-time roasters with a crowd of regulars and a cozy atmosphere.

  • Things to Do at Tamarack

    At Tamarack, every season brings new adventures to experience — and we’ve put together the ultimate guide to make the most of it.

  • A 4-Day Winter Visit to McCall

    Welcome to McCall, Southwest Idaho’s winter wonderland. Here, the adventures don’t stop when winter hits, so we’ve put together a 3-day weekend full of skiing, snowmobiling, hot springs and more.

Show weather

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Boise

86°F

McCall

68°F